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CFO Jeff Atwater Provides Rewards to Eight Citizens for Tips that Led to Uncovering $2 Million in Insurance Fraud


TALLAHASSEE—Florida CFO Jeff Atwater today announced $50,500 in rewards for eight Floridians who provided key information that led to arrests and convictions in five major insurance fraud cases.  These citizens helped uncover more than $2 million in fraudulent insurance billings leading to 26 arrests to date.

“These citizens stepped up and made a tremendous contribution to the fight against insurance fraud,” said CFO Atwater. “Their actions go beyond these cases—they have helped every Floridian who pays more than they should for insurance premiums.”

Four of the cases involved fraudulent Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claims, a costly crime that has made Florida the nation’s leader in staged auto accidents.  One of CFO Atwater’s top priorities is to crack down on those who perpetrate auto insurance fraud, a crime that is forcing many families to pay hundreds of dollars in additional premiums each year, depending on how many cars they have in the driveway and where they live.

“It is unfair and unconscionable that every person who buys an auto insurance policy in the state of Florida is paying for the thieves and enabling industries who are gaming the system, and it won’t be tolerated,” said CFO Atwater, who yesterday addressed the Florida House of Representatives Insurance & Banking Subcommittee on auto insurance fraud.

Rewards issued for PIP cases include:

• $10,000 to a witness who provided information leading to an arrest and conviction, and the closure of a Tampa accident clinic that was billing insurance companies for services never rendered.  Potential losses were up to $500,000.
• $10,000 to a witness who provided information leading to seven arrests and convictions, and the closure of two Tampa clinics that filed more than $175,000 in fraudulent insurance claims.
• $1,500 each to two witnesses who provided information that led to the arrests and convictions of four clinic workers who filed $110,000 in fraudulent claims. Additional arrests are pending. 
• $2,500 to a witness who provided information leading to the arrests and convictions of three individuals who staged an auto accident and filed more than $48,000 in fraudulent claims through a Tampa clinic.

Three witnesses will be paid a total of $25,000 for providing information against Jacksonville-based Lee and Cates Glass Co., a windshield replacement business that filed 2,245 fraudulent claims totaling more than $1.2 million.  There have been 11 arrests associated with this company.  The company replaced windshields with after-market windshields and charged insurance companies for new ones. One of the witnesses will be paid $15,000, and two others will receive $8,750 and $1,250.

These cases were investigated by the Division of Insurance Fraud, the law enforcement arm of the Department of Financial Services responsible for investigating all insurance fraud in Florida.  Anyone with information about these or any other incidents of suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0455. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. 

The Department of Financial Services to date has awarded almost $250,000 to approximately 40 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program.  The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official and officer of the Florida Cabinet, oversees the Department of Financial Services.  CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away capital, and ensuring transparency and accountability in spending.